It was only a couple of weeks ago that the squash world was discussing David Palmer's retirement from the PSA and now he has signed to compete on the US based Pro Squash Tour (PST). The PST's full announcement can be read here.
Joe McManus, the commissioner of the PST stated that “David is the sport’s most recognizable name and one of its great ambassadors,” said McManus. “We have seen this type of signing before in sports. Pele came to America to bolster the game of soccer. Later, it was David Beckham for MLS. David’s addition to PST will benefit every player on the tour because his presence will allow us to attract more sponsorship and increase our tournament purses. It is a seminal moment in the history of the Pro Squash Tour and the game of squash.”
I certainly agree that David Palmer is one of the biggest names in squash. That is because of the success he has achieved on the PSA Tour and because of the longevity of his career. It is amazing that he left the PSA tour ranked #9 in the world in a game that certainly favours youth. He certainly is the biggest name on the PST. Heralding's Palmer's signing as comparable to Pele or Beckham coming to the play soccer in the US is certainly a bold statement but there are similarities. Both Pele and Beckham came to the US later in their careers. Palmer is certainly later in his career. Both Pele and Beckham were or are huge names in their sport as is Palmer. Beckham's signing definitely got people talking about the MLS. I am sure the PST is hoping the signing of David Palmer will have the same outcome for them.
I do agree with Joe McManus's assertion that having signed Palmer should allow the PST to attract more sponsorship and therefore increase prize money. I would expect that there will definitely be an increased interest in the PST's events which should lead to larger audiences which should lead to more interest from companies wanting to market to them.
How will Palmer do on the Pro Squash Tour? Is he going to dominate? Following many squash related accounts on Twitter that seems to be the consensus. There is a belief that he is going to completely destroy the competition. When he left the PSA he certainly was playing at an extremely high level. I am definitely interested in seeing how he fares and just how well the PST's current line-up fare against him.
Will more top international players follow Palmer and join the PST? If the prize money does grow there is a possibility of that of course. This is definitely an exciting time for the Pro Squash Tour and I look forward to following David Palmer on it and seeing if his signing does indeed help the growth of the PST and squash in general in North America.